Pocket Knife Reviews. Step-by-Step

 Well, friends, this moment just had to come sooner or later. I’ve been reviewing  best pocket knives (mostly) for about three years. Since my day-one article there’ve appeared a lot of people eager to know more about EDC culture and its centerpiece – the folding knife. Time has come to nail down all the contradictions and answer the most sacred questions. Read on and find more things about pocket knives we always wanted to know (but were afraid to ask about).

The Best Pocket Knife Leaderboard

There are the leaderboards grouped by price below and we highly recommend you to pay attention at them.

Best Pocket Knives Under $50

Ontario RAT IIAUS-83.0" Review
Spyderco Tenacious8Cr13MoV3.4" Review
Kershaw Leek14C28N3.0" Review
SOG Twitch IIAUS-82.6" Review
Kershaw Skyline14C28N3.1" Review

Best Pocket Knives Under $150

Spyderco Paramilitary 2CPM-S30V3.4" Review
Benchmade Mini-Griptilian154CM2.9" Review
Spyderco Manix 2CPM-S30V3.4" Review
Spyderco Endura 4VG-103.8" Review
Benchmade 70758-60 HRC2.9" Review

Best Pocket Knives Under $250

Benchmade 940S30V Premium3.40" Review
Spyderco MilitaryCPM-S30V4" Review
Zero Tolerance 0562Elmax3.5" Review
Zero Tolerance 0450CPM-S35VN3.25" Review
Spyderco DominoCTS XHP3.13"Review


The best pocket knife

The newcomers ask numerous peculiar questions. What steel to choose? Is 400 – dollar custom knife worth a try? Can a butterfly knife spoil my daughter’s
future? And my favorite: what do I do with a recently discovered antique switchblade on the back of my old man’s Buick Roadmaster? People, let’s face it, there is mainly one question we are all eager to get an answer for – what is the best knife to fit our pocket, our budget and our expectations? That is the thing I’m going to talk about now.

To begin with, let’s give the definition of a pocket knife. Man, I know it’s obvious, but anyway – what is a pocket blade? In my opinion – it can be everything. Heck, in my days I’ve been using a pen with foldable blade on it. And it was still my primary EDC during school days. Times passed, grandpa gave me his old timer pocket blade for backpacking. Then I heard about custom knives. Later, blades with pocket clips became my obsession. And so the meaning of a folder changed as I grew up. There are many types of pocket blades and so the only definition I can give is the following: “A pocket knife is a knife that can easily be carried in a pocket without a sheath (since we don’t take fixed blades into consideration)”.

Now, I won’t write about things like the length of the knife, its shape and color in this section. Simply because it is not the case here. Many people enter their obsession with EDC blades just not knowing where to start. They have a job, a hobby, a family, a car and insurance but can’t figure out the use for a good pocket blade. And, don’t worry, we’ll get back to the pocket knife’s form factors later on. But right now let’s discuss the reasons for getting a pocket blade.
As I’ve mentioned – there are many types of pocket knives. And all they serve their purpose. Frankly speaking, I don’t know the name of the best pocket knife in the world, the one and only holy mother-of-all-blades. Because there is no best knife whatsoever. A soldier won’t use a wooden pocket knife on modern warfare battlefield. Damascus, spring assisted knife or plain robust tanto blade with a Tri – Ad lock will do the job for saving fellow marine. As fishing stainless pocket knife will suit any fisherman. And a folding razor sharp bowie knife will add points to a hunter or scout. What I am saying is people carry blades for reasons. Of course not many civilians go to war these days. And so finding a reason for getting a good reliable pocket knife becomes difficult. Still, know this – an EDC blade is something we all need once in a while. Here are a couple of good use cases.

The main reason for carrying a blade is simply utilitarian. Have you ever noticed those annoying threads on the sleeves of your shirt? If yes, then welcome to the club. No, seriously, my grandma works in an orchard – the most peaceful place on planet Earth. Even she uses a French pocket knife for cutting small branches and peeling apples. Getting away from big city is something practically every person does in a time. Trailing, backpacking, surviving – call it as you like. Having a knife (preferably with a flashlight) at a hands reach is essential in this situation. And if 9-to-5 office work gets in a way, there will be nothing better than opening letters with a gorgeous carbon fiber folding or ceramic blade. I am not talking self-
defense, car theft, kidnaping and all the horrible events that happen around the globe. Still I believe having a sharp blade clipped to one’s pocket can easily become the last chance to grab onto.

Coming up next is the section where we think over the most popular EDC brands on the market and decide which one is worth our attention.


Best pocket knife brands

Many people these days believe that best knives are made in Japan, Europe and the USA. Even the cheapest Japanese pocket blades arrive with utmost attention to details and assembly. USA made pocket knives usually have the reputation of robust long livers. German folders are known for their reserved looks and brilliant quality. A lot can be told about countries of other knife manufacturers. Still the majority of today’s folders are made in China and Taiwan. That being said, many of those factories actually belong to American and European companies (Japanese knife brands keep it original). Ok, that’s fine, so what knife brand should I choose? Well, that’s where I’m getting at. Now we’ll discuss the peculiarities of the most famous knife brands on today’s market.

The company mainly all newcomers stumble upon is OKS also known as Ontario Knife Company. The brand gained its popularity
mainly for survival pocket and fixed blades. OKS gave birth to many folders. Still the Ontario Rat model 1 is company’s number one bestselling budget folder people love and respect. Produced on Taiwan, this knife is armed with AUS8/D2 blade, steel liners, nylon handles and perfect ergonomics. It is so damn good, I know guys with huge custom blade collections who claim it to be still the best. Trust me: there is a book to be written on how cool this brand is. However it really takes time to acknowledge the awesomeness brought up by survival specialists and knife makers.

Coming up next is American-Japanese brand Spyderco. You know, every mobile brand has its iPhone. Among knife making companies this title can definitely be accredited to Spyderco Knife Company. What is the best pocket knife for my 60 bucks, man? Spyderco Delica 5 will be the answer. Being a company with a huge knife-making experience, Spyderco consists mainly of professionals who love what they do. Experimenting with premium knife steel grades, being always on top of modern designs and creating only the sharpest blades – that’s what Spyderco is all about. Besides, they were the guys who invented the Spyder-hole opening system. In my experience Spyderco produced more live classics than any other knife company. And if things like Endura4, Military, Manix, Paramilitary and Delica ring a bell, then you know what I am talking about.

Earlier I mentioned Tri-Ad lock tanto folder and was certainly implying the Cold Steel brand. Indeed this USA based company creates the most durable and
robust folding knives in the world. Just look them up on YouTube and get the whole picture. Most of their pocket blades are plain reliable knives. Not the best slicers, though, but again – nothing comes for free. In other words, if you are looking for a stiff EDC folder – check some of the Cold Steel best models like Voyager and Finn Wolf, for example.

Benchmade has always been a company with vast collaboration history. I mean yeah, Cold Steel and Spyderco engage people of all walks of life for new releases (check out Steve Austin’s Broken Skull series), but it is always Benchmade who work with professional knife designers to create even better folders with reasonable price. Mel Pardue, Warren Osborne, Bill McHenry, Jason Williams, Bob Lum, Seiichi Nakamura, you name it. Additionally, Benchmade provides information about people behind the quality of their knives (assembly, sharpening, bevel grinding, etc), which is a good and rare feature among knifemaking brands. After all, Benchmade is USA knife brand with its own factory and supreme quality. And that, I suppose, is worth any knife beginner’s attention.

SOG, Buck, Opinel, Victorinox, ESEE, Zero Tolerance, Kershaw, DPx, EKA, Lone Wolf – there are many knife brands with their history and distinct features. There is a lot to be told and written. However, the brands described above, are probably the best for entry level users and beginning EDC maniacs. Again, it’s impossible to define the best knife brand in the world. For each and every one of us there will probably be just a couple of companies to admire and respect. And so the very minute you’ve decided what brand to choose, the question of knife size emerges from nowhere.


Small pocket knife or Big pocket knife

A frequently asked question is this: what knife should I buy – a bigger or a smaller one? As usual, it is hard to give a straight answer. We all have different hands; besides, different jobs require different cutting edge length. A mini pocket knife can easily be used as a desk blade for opening letters and sharpening a pencil. Whilst, a bigger blade should serve you well in the kitchen or outdoors. The truth, as they say, is always somewhere there, so the next two paragraphs we’ll dedicate to the advantages and drawbacks of small and big pocket knives.

The topic of a tiny pocket blade has been controversial from the word go. A pocket folder is already not that big, so why make it even smaller? Well, like my grandpa says: if they do it, they do it for a reason. A small pocket knife usually means a thin pocket knife. This way it is easier to carry in the pocket. The blade occupies very little space so additionally you can put a wallet inside the same pocket. Another thing to mention is the cutting edge. You see, EDC tasks rarely include game skinning and food preparation. Well, you’ll probably want to peel an apple but that you can do even with an exacto knife. Another thing is the ergonomics. A man’s hand is bigger than a child’s or woman’s hand and so the convenience of knife use comes at first place. So to understand whether or not the knife suits you, just go to the nearest arms shop and hold the folder in your hands. From my experience, I’d recommend checking out Ontario Rat 2, Spyderco Delica 4 and Benchmade Mini Griptilian first. Of course there are many other awesome pocket blades but we’ll talk about that later.

Big pocket knives is, you guessed it, a horse of another color. Bigger pocket knives fit a hand better. Besides, you can use longer cutting edge for tasks other than opening letters and sharpening pencils. Plus huge pocket knives are not necessarily thicker than smaller blades, since companies like Spyderco continue ruining myths like that. Take Endura 4 into consideration with its 5 inch handle and almost a 4 inch blade. Same goes with weight. Although blades like Endura 4 are pretty rare on the market today, it is possible to find bigger blades with thin handles and acceptable weight. If you are an admirer of really huge folders, try out Cold Steel Spartan or Rajah.


Womens pocket knife vs mens pocket knife

As been written in the previous part of the review – men and women have different hands. I won’t talk a lot about size, since usually women don’t use big folders. Girls like small to medium blades. Another thing to consider is color, shape and design. Sometimes you hear: “This is truly a masculine blade!” People, let’s face the obvious – no knife has gender prescriptions on it. Duh, I know, they produce knives with flower colored handles. But DPx makes H.E.S.T with pink handles. So again, men can use any knives they want. Let’s concentrate on girl pocket knives.

Now, I won’t tell you what to buy, but merely give a friendly advice on what knives to consider. Like with Converse shoes, first look for pocket knives with multiple colors available. Yes, I am looking at you Delica 4. But let’s not make a hustle, because there other knives to consider. My favorite is Kershaw Blur. Black, red, green, olive drab, heck even gold and silver – you can get it in million colors. Only problem is they usually produce limited colored series. So whenever you get the chance to get Blur in your favorite color – don’t miss it. Ontario Rat model 2 and Esee Zancudo are another two examples. Being pretty small EDC blades these models will occupy minimum space in your girlfriend’s purse or jacket. Additionally you can get them with black coated blade and pink handles that look really cool even by my standards. For those into classics, Buck makes awesome heritage knives with bolsters, back locks and clip point blades. People are different anyway, but at least I’ve given you a few hints on what could become a great present for the loved ones.


Best pocket knife for the money

One of the numerous truths I’ve learned since my first EDC folding knife was that everything costs exactly what you are ready to pay for it. My first Ontario Rat model 1 cost me $28, later I spent $40 on Spyderco Tenacious, $65 on Delica 4 and $90 on Paramilitary 2. What I’m trying to say – the more you know about knife brands the more you realize the price even on the most expensive blades is justified. But right now let’s talk about places to buy pocket blades and decide what knives can be the best for beginner’s budget.

We all know what MSRP is. It’s always high and unpleasant so don’t even think about purchasing knives from official websites. First of all, try well known online shops. You can look up their names in Google or ask people in social networks and forums. Usually online stores that sell pocket knives give you warranty, free shipping and even service (although it depends strongly on the knife brand policy). Besides you can easily find hundreds of cool discount pocket knives for sale cheap as dirt. Secondly, try buying used knives. It is a common misconception that EDC knives are used every day. Clever users tend to keep the cutting edge on their knives razor sharp as long as possible. So finding an “already used” but actually new folder is not a problem. There is, however, risk of buying replica or damaged product. In this case, I strongly recommend contacting sellers in your city or town.

Finally, I’d like to list several good offers for the buck. My favorite USA made knife for 45$ is Kershaw Blur. Spyderco Delica 4 cost me 60 bucks, had mediocre assembly but sharp as hell. Imagine how surprised I was to receive Ken Onion’s assisted folder with one of the best ergonomics ever. Add to that cool black anodized aluminum handles, decent steel and recurved edge. That’s what I’d call best pocket knife under 50$. Another option is good old cheap swiss army knife. Prices on this here fellow differ drastically from shop to shop. But it won’t rip a hole in your budget at all (bought my Victorinox Spartan for 9$ on black Friday). If you ask me “what are the best pocket blades under 100?”, I’d name you a few. First of all the basics: Spyderco Delica, Endura and Benchmade Griptillian. All of them are lightweight cool EDC knives with good quality steel grades and assembled in the USA. There is chance, of course, to find Spyderco Paramilitary or Manix for the money. But for the starters, I guess knives like Delica and Rat 1 should do the job. Finally, purchasing the best knife for the money depends on your goals and patience.


Pocket knife laws

Is it illegal to carry a pocket knife with Emerson opener and glass breaker on it? Questions like that occur even in the heads of the oldest knife users. Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to scary you or something. However, the knowledge of laws when carrying a pocket knife is important. Like with a gun, a knife owner should always be informed about the latest knife laws in his/her state or country. Usually carrying small blades in public places won’t attract attention unless being flick opened. The limitations appear when a person starts using big or automatic blades. At home it is OK to slice open letters with a Microtech Halo, for instance. But at the postal office using a switchblade can really scare people. Actions like that draw attention and can cause trouble situations even on the street. After all, you are not some bondiana villain to go to public places with a knife like that.


Maintaining a pocket knife

As a matter of fact, people rarely think about maintenance before buying something. In my days I just wanted to ride a bike. Imagine how disappointed I was when the first blowout happened. But don’t worry, emotions like that won’t bother you, because we are now going to talk about how to sharpen, clean, correctly open and close the knife.

To start with, not all pocket blades should be taken apart for cleaning. Open structure pocket folders are the easiest. You just take compressed air and get rid of the debris inside. Otherwise, get ready to get dirty. Figuratively speaking, of course. You’ll need torx bolt drivers (T6, T8, T10 and probably others), lube and threadlocker. Gently unscrew the bolts and dismantle the knife. I’d also recommend watching videos on your knife’s model, since there are many folding knife mechanisms. Oil the pivot screw, spacers and assemble the knife using wee portions of threadlocker. Pay extra attention to belt clip screws ‘cause they are the first to loose and almost impossible to find.

There, in fact, can be two ways of solving this problem. Either you take your knife to service, pay money and get professional job done, or you learn to do it yourself. If, you are number two type, welcome to the club. Sharpening a knife is quite a painstaking knife that needs concentration and skill. People usually get scared when sharpening expensive knives. That’s why try sharpening cheap or used blades. I learned with Opinel #9. Now with the triangle I sharpen Paramilitary and Manix folders easily. Speaking of the devil, you’ll need a sharpening system. At first it can be just the ceramic rod. Later, I’d rather you buy Spyderco triangle – a really brilliant and easy way to get your knife razor sharp.

Opening a knife, closing a knife, whatever – you have to be careful. I once knew a man who sliced his finger trying to flick open the blade and impress his friends.

There are many locking mechanisms with quite a limited number of opening ways. You see, usually there are flippers and thumb studs. Innovators like Spyderco came up with their “Spyder hole” and that added a few tricks for users to learn. Benchmade invented Axis lock, so that again added fuel to the fire. However, in general people still use their index finger or thumb to open a knife. Don’t even try playing with a folder without the knowledge or experience. Remember, that pocket knife is still a tool, not a toy to play with.